The City’s Landmark Review Board has voted unanimously to designate the site and the exterior of the former Coca Cola bottling plant (1313 E. Columbia) a landmark, finding that it meets these two criteria of the landmarks preservation ordinance:
D. It embodies the distinctive visible characteristics of an architectural style, or period, or of a method of construction, and
F. Because of its prominence of spatial location, contrasts of siting, age, or scale it is an easily identifiable visual feature of its neighborhood or the City and contributes to the distinctive quality or identity of such neighborhood or the City.
Seattle University, the current owner of the building intends, in the near term, to remodel the interior of the building to provide temporary library functions while the Lemieux Library is extensively renovated/remodeled. To remodel the Coca Cola building while meeting the energy code S.U. presented to the Architectural Review Committee of the Landmarks Preservation Board a proposal to replace the building’s windows with close replicas rather than exact replicas. S.U. states that it would cost over $850,000 to restore and replace the windows to their original condition. Furthermore, the University states, such windows would not be operable and would interfere with the ability to comply with ventilation and cooling requirements of the energy code. S.U. believes it can provide new, operable windows that look very much like the originals at a cost that is several hundred thousand dollars less. The Architectural Review Committee did not reach a decision on recommending for or against the window replacement proposal and no vote was taken. The issue will be considered at a future meeting of the Landmarks Review Board.
S.U. will also ask for approval for a new paint job. The current blue and white scheme was done by the most recent owner QWest. (Apparently QWest also had, at one time, plans to alter the building, but didn’t follow through.) It seems that no one knows for sure what color the building was originally — or at least the color of the accents is not known for sure. The main part of the building was and is some shade of white. The accents may have been cream colored, although one S.U. staff person stated that red was possible. They are analyzing paint samples from the building and may know more in the future.
At the Landmarks Preservation Board meeting one of the board members opined that the scalloped design above the 14th Avenue door reminded him of the edges of a bottle cap. This gave rise to the suggestion that renovation include a giant “church key” poised above the door. Looking forward to that.
The blog owned by former Squire Park resident Jess Cliffe, www.vintageseattle.org has an article about the building and some good pictures.
As a footnote, in the slide show that Susan Boyle presented to the Landmarks Board to show the context for the Coca Cola bottling plant was included a number of other bottling plants of the time, including a Canada Dry plant of the same era from some other city— L.A. maybe. It looked strikingly like the former Canada Dry bottling plant on the S.U. campus at 12th and Marion — the building that now houses the bookstore and several offices. That building apparently is not on the list of possible landmarks and S.U.’s long range plans are to demolish it to allow for expansion of the law school.